Lighthouses

image“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
― Anne Lamott

I don’t remember when I first became drawn to Lighthouses. I just remember seeing one and feeling the ethereal draw on me. I think I first related to its loneliness, not yet its confidence. That sense of profound loneliness came at a very early age for me.

I wasn’t an ordinary happy-go-lucky girl. Life circumstances saw to that. I was happy enough, but I also felt a chasm between me and others. I could see things about people that many girls my age didn’t seem to know. Someone once said I was an “old soul.” I saw others in different ways, saw their indifference, falsities, motivations and woundedness. If you are exposed to these as a child, and you pay attention, you learn things about people. Losing a parent, by whatever means, and having your life and circumstances turned over like a floundering ship, strips you of your security. When you see and watch turmoil around you long enough, you pick up on clues. You come to recognize the patterns and subtleties of the storms around you.

Like the lighthouse, I stood amongst the storms but it isn’t until now that I realize how like it I was, hence the draw. I somehow lost touch with my light, or maybe never knew how far it shone, until I had some length of years and experiences as a lens from which to shine through. In reality though I know I never understood then that the source of my light was God. I didn’t yet know that my place was to be firmly planted where I was, wherever that was, since the one and only constant I had in my life was God. He was the source of my light and the rock solid foundation I could rely on, as the lighthouse is built on solid rock, standing firm regardless of the tumultuous sea around it and the lost ships tossed about in the surrounding, ever changing waters.

It took many years for me to learn and know, to a degree that I would never doubt, that God is my constant and continuous source. Now I am trusting Him, knowing that he will provide as I work to be a beacon worthy enough for him to shine through.

God’s word tells us, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4) He is the solid foundation for your life. If you find yourself tossed about by circumstances and you are feeling alone, trying to maneuver through a storm, seek shelter in the one who knows you.

I can recall seeking and searching, trying to figure out why the events of my life came to be, and each time that I relied on my own understanding nothing felt safe. There was no peaceful harbor to shelter me.

God says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3) It was only by turning to God, calling to him that I found the peace I sought for so long. He opened my eyes and my heart and helped me to understand the things that I never could.

He is everlasting and will be your solid foundation; and his love for you is so much bigger than any storm or circumstance. If you feel like that ship out in the turbulent waters, look – for there is a light, though distant now, it is there, rock solid and everlasting. “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is.” (Ephesians 3:18)

If you would like to know more about the solid foundation that God provides, please drop us a line at reigndropsblog@gmail.com, we’d love to hear from you!

Law and Order

Rules Those of you who have read this blog from the beginning will recall that at one point in my life I had a wee bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol. For anyone new here, suffice it to say that when it came to following the rules, I didn’t. I won’t dig into the details on that, I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced your own rebellious streaks at one point or another. If I have learned anything, it’s that I’m not nearly as unique as I might have once thought myself.

This rebelliousness that most of us have gone through, or perhaps continue to struggle with, is nothing new. Give a thorough reading to the Old Testament and you’ll see example after example of individuals and groups who rebel against God. The words “so the people did whatever seemed right in their own minds” (ie: Judges 17:6) have regular occurrence. It seems by our very nature we are a pugnacious lot.

While there are all kinds of rules we are expected (and sometimes reluctant) to follow, such as income taxes, speed limits, and the like; let us be concerned with the laws that God has set before us. In the Bible, from beginning to end, we find God has lots of rules for us. I won’t take the time to dive into a detailed analysis of all God’s rules, for such an analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on a few examples, taken from the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) So let’s get honest with each other. Who has not stolen something at least once in their lives? Maybe it was just a little something, like a few office supplies from work. It didn’t have to be something big, it was still stealing if we appropriated for ourselves that which belonged to someone else. And someone who steals is called…a thief, right?

And then there’s the rule that, perhaps, I struggle with more than any other: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…..or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) I suspect I am not alone in my covetousness. For me, it’s usually gazing upon that new Corvette that my neighbor just bought, or some other shiny object in my neighbor’s garage for which I feel such avarice. Have you not found yourself desiring that which belongs to someone else? Fess up, don’t leave me hanging out here on my own!

We are always tempted to wonder why God has such rules for us. Perhaps the answer to that question actually lies, in part, within one of those rules. In Exodus 20:12 we find this gem: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ah, there we have something “so that you may live long….” Yes! Our understanding of why God has rules for us is revealed in that statement.

Now, almost from the first moments of our lives we are already failing to honor our parents. “Be home before dark.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “Don’t play in the street.” I think we all know why our parents had those rules in place for us. In all likelihood, we have (or had) similar rules for our own children. Because we love them dearly and we want them to survive in this world and to be all they can be. And now we see, in the fifth commandment, that God wants the same for us: to survive in this world and to be all we can be!

So, in today’s world, a lot of people think God’s rules are archaic and irrelevant; but many of us have the same rules for our children as our parents’ had for us because, as adults, we have come to realize that those rules were sensible in every way. And so it is with God’s rules, they made sense then and they make sense now – for it is only when we follow God’s rules that we experience all that life has to offer. It is only when we follow God’s rules that reach our highest potential and experience true freedom.

When I rebelled against my parents’ rules I was first and foremost rebelling against God and my life was a constant uphill struggle. Sure there were some happy times, but deep inside was constant unrest and deep dissatisfaction with life. But I have found the more I follow God’s rules the more peace and serenity I enjoy. I want you to know that peace and serenity, too, so I invite you to try life God’s way. What have you got to lose?

Crash Test

Sunny Day Accident Scene So in my last blog post I promised to tell you what happened two weeks after my cancer surgery. Well, perhaps it was closer to two and a half weeks after, but here’s the story.

I was recovering from the surgery quite nicely. I had spent only one night in the hospital, which was a good thing because they kept poking me for this test and that and I was convinced I would be out of blood were I to stay another day.

It wasn’t but a day after being home in bed that I became as bored as I can remember ever being. So I took out my laptop and began working. It is a fine advantage of our technological era that one can log on from home and work almost as if I was there in the office. And my efforts to stay on top of my responsibilities may have seemed in some way mildly heroic to my coworkers, I will confess here and now it was more to stave off boredom than anything.

The nature of my surgery meant I had to be catheterized for at least two weeks, maybe three. I counted myself fortunate, then, that I had a surgeon who believed in removing the catheter as soon as possible. So two weeks and a couple days after surgery I went in and the catheter was removed. Nothing, I discovered, will make you feel more normal than being without a catheter after such a period of time. The doctor examined me and cleared me to return to work, but only for half days until the following week.

I was never so happy to return to work in all my life. And that Thursday morning off I went. My coworkers greeted me warmly and I dove into my work with a renewed gusto. But, mindful of the doctor’s orders, I dutifully went back home after half a day was complete.

The next morning I was back in the office feeling even better than the day before. And once again, I obeyed doctor’s orders and left after half a day. But I was feeling better than the day before. It was a gorgeous, sunshiny summer day and as I drove home I marveled at how good I felt. I thought about the beauty of nature and the things I would attempt to do over the weekend. I was feeling mighty good and I was making plans….

And then it happened……WHAM!!!!!!

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, a dump truck flashed into my peripheral vision and not a second later, an awful crunch, and I was spinning, and I remember wondering if I was going to flip over. Was this the end? And then I was stopped. What just happened?

My first thought was I need to get out of this car. I tried the door but it would not open. Unlatching my seatbelt I climbed, NASCAR style, out the driver’s side window. And there was a crowd around me. Even in the immediate, post-accident fog I was in, I remember being amazed that there were so many people. This incident occurring, as it had, between Norwood-Young America and New Germany, an area sparsely populated at best.

I was in shock and the exact sequence of events following the accident are still a bit of a blurr in my mind’s eye. I was up and around, not seriously injured, and I remember looking back at the car and thinking it didn’t look too badly damaged. I was hustled away in an ambulance to be checked out by the emergency room staff, but after my release later that evening I was taken to the impound lot where my car was being stored. I cannot describe the shock I felt as I gazed upon what was left of my car.

Sure, it didn’t look that bad from the driver’s side, where I had been immediately following the accident, but the passenger side, where the truck actually hit, was destroyed. Had any passengers been riding with me, they surely would have been killed. It became instantly apparent to me that I had survived only by the narrowest of margins.

And here in lies the point of me telling you this story. One instant I was feeling good and planning my weekend, the next I was spinning around wondering if I might die. Had you been riding with me, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. And so it is with our lives, that things can change much faster and more suddenly than most of us care to imagine.

Psalm 39:4 says: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” My cancer and my subsequent accident have taught me the value of considering the brevity of life and how quickly things can change. There is a real temptation, when it comes to our relationship with God, to always assume we have another day…or another hour. The fact is, we may not even have another minute.

Are you prepared to meet your maker? If you are not sure, please email us at reigndropsblog@gmail.com. We’d love to help you find the assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures to help you understand just how close I came that day in 2009. And may God bless you and keep you from ever experiencing this for yourself.

Accident Cropped

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Accident 081409 008

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Reflections

20150703_153631 Cancer. It’s a word that generally elicits a response from people, whether it be shock that a close friend has it, sorrow over a loved one who has died from it, disgust at its refusal to be cured. Yes, the very word “cancer” tends to bring about a response of some kind. Six years ago it brought a definite reaction from me when I heard the doctor say, “Tim, you have cancer.” Those are words a person simply doesn’t want to hear.

If you will allow me to go back in time a little further, it was nearly seven years ago when my best friend shared with me that he had cancer. I was in utter shock and my first thought was, “I can’t lose him.” Then, as the news sank in, I prayed for him. Eventually, I tried to be brave for him and to bring comfort and reassurance to him, thinking as I did that he probably could use some reassurance.

Eventually, he had surgery and recovered quite nicely and has been cancer-free since. Praise God!

It wasn’t but a few months later that I went in for a routine physical. During that examination, the subject of colonoscopies came up. I’m not quite sure why this subject is so fascinating to doctors, but it seems every five years or so they will bring it up in conversation. And I still do not recall agreeing to this procedure, but before I left his office I was sitting across the desk from a nurse who was scheduling it.

I suppose it was a week or so later when I went in for a colonoscopy (all kidding aside, if you haven’t had one and you’re nearing middle age – talk to your doctor, it is one of their favorite topics anyway). And suddenly, there I was listening to a doctor telling me how my colon was normal, I honestly don’t remember a thing. Then some mighty strange words came out of the doctor’s mouth, “I’m referring you to the urologist.”

Huh? Weren’t we worried about number two? What’s number one got to do with this?

Once again I was sitting in front of a nurse being scheduled for a referral appointment. Perhaps I was foggy from the sedative but I still don’t remember the doctor giving me a viable explanation why I should see the urologist. The words, “Just a precaution” may have been spoken, but I can’t be sure. I am quite certain, in hindsight, that my referral was accompanied by some super-secret paperwork patients aren’t ever allowed to see.

So off to the urologist. And subsequently, after a fairly uncomfortable biopsy procedure involving twelve exceedingly large needles, cancer was discovered in my prostate. “Honestly, doctor, I feel fine, how could I have cancer?”

I called my aforementioned best friend and told him the news. “HT,” I said in jest, “it was so much easier to be brave when it was you.” And after many questions – HT had already done all the research after all – I decided to consult with the surgeon who performed his surgery. And so the surgery was scheduled. I had a couple weeks to wait. Time for some contemplation. I remember going for a long drive in the country, all by myself, and talking to God. I hadn’t exactly been pursuing my Christian walk with all the gusto I should have been, but now I was in crisis and it was to God I turned.

Sometime during my long drive, I put in my Todd Agnew CD and these were the words Todd sang:

I’ve been surrounding myself with things I’m finding unable to fill me, unable to still my trembling soul
But You’re always there when I turn around, even though I’ve been running for so long
You’re always there when I cry out, even when I’ve been silent for so long
You’re always there when I need You….I need You

And I cried. And cried. And cried some more. I didn’t cry because I was scared. I cried because He was there. Like He always is, whether I have been pursuing Him as I should or not. And suddenly I knew it was going to be alright. I had the absolute, unconditional love of the Creator, and the assurance of forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No matter what the future held, I was going to be alright.

And now, six years later, I’m here. Cancer-free. Not everyone who hears those fateful words, “You have cancer” will have such a successful outcome in the medical sense. But we all can have the blessed assurance of God’s forgiveness and the promise of our eternal security. This life we live is not the end and our physical death is not final.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
(1Corinthians 15:55)

So I invite you, right now, to know that God is always there for you and, if you haven’t already, to secure your eternal future. It’s really easy – just get honest with God and talk to Him. He’s always there, and He always listens.

God bless you!

Next time, I’ll tell you what happened two weeks after my surgery. Stay tuned.

Faith Lessons

Tim and Donna I thought today would be a fitting day to introduce myself because today is my mom’s birthday. My mother would have turned 79 today. She was the single most influential person to my faith growing up.

I was born in Stuttgart, Germany to American parents. My father was in the U.S. Army, stationed there in the 60’s. We left Germany when I was only 4 months old due to the death of my twin sister, Barbara. From there we moved to Alaska and Texas before we came to rest in my parents’ hometown in Oklahoma. By then the Vietnam War was well underway. My father was preparing to be deployed there while my mother, three brothers and I would stay behind near family.

The Vietnam War means a lot of things to many, for me it meant a departure from life as I knew it. My father did two tours in Vietnam before he disappeared from our lives, leaving my mother to raise the four of us on her own. He did not die in Vietnam, at least not in the literal sense. He chose instead to walk away from his family. Overnight, it seemed, we went from a comfortable, middle class life to poverty and survival.

I remember many long nights listening to my mother crying in her room and crying out to God. Will, perseverance and survival pushed my mother into the world of the working single parent, two or three jobs at a time, 16 hour workdays, blistered hands from factory work, and sleepless nights. Somehow, she managed to do all that and put herself through nursing school. It takes a great deal of determination to achieve things in the face of adversity I, too, learned later in life. But the single most important thing I saw demonstrated through my mother and the trials she endured, was the strength of her faith.

Thomas Aquinas said “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” It is hard for me to put into words what I observed from mother as she applied her faith to the hurdles of her life. From so many examples I could easily pen a book. The legacy she established for me is everlasting. God did indeed carry her through some rough times. From this I know where my strength lies, in Jesus.

I can tell you from my experience that God is real. He is faithful. He will see you through the lowest points. He will raise you out of the darkest day. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

I know the truth of this because I witnessed it. God reveals his love and by faith I receive it.

If you are seeking and you are finding life too much to endure, Tim and I encourage you to put your trust in God. He will lift you out of despair and give you new life. It only takes faith.

And happy birthday, Mom!
Susie

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Badlands

20150703_170659-cDonna and I really enjoy driving trips. Most of the time, we simply take day trips to nearby scenic or historic destinations, thus saving on the expense of overnight accommodations. But over the 4th of July weekend this year, we splurged and enjoyed a weekend getaway to western South Dakota. We traveled 1,435 miles in 3 days, saw spectacular scenery, and met some interesting folks.

Our home for two nights was the Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast in Philip, SD. And, while the address is technically associated with the city of Philip, the reality is that Triangle Ranch is not actually near anything. Its secluded locale was a large part of the charm; but we found the beautiful house, which is an original Sears house ordered from the 1917 Sears & Roebuck catalog, to provide as much charm as any house could. Simply put, it’s amazing.

Another charming feature of staying at a bed & breakfast is meeting people from various geographic locations. Making such acquaintances doesn’t happen so easily at the larger chain hotels. Among the folks we can now call friends were Kenny and Lyndy, the 3rd generation owners of Triangle Ranch. Our mutual faith in Jesus Christ immediately surfaced in our conversation and there’s always a special warmth that goes along with meeting a brother and sister in the Lord.

We also met people from Dallas, Kansas City, and Indianapolis. When meeting new people, the conversation will, of course, drift to that most timeless ice-breaker question: “what do you do?” On this particular trip, instead of answering that question with lengthy details of my employment in manufacturing, I answered with, “we write for a new blog.”

This, of course, leads to dialogue about the Christ-centered intent of our blog. And two things became apparent to me; one – people are genuinely fascinated with blogs and perk up when you mention you write one; and two – when I bring up that I am a Christian, people invariably tell me about their spiritual life, or lack thereof. The conversation was no different this time around.

Why? Why do people tend to tell me about their current spiritual state and/or spiritual history when I bring up my Christianity? I think we need look no further than Romans 1:19-20 for the answer: “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

So when the subject of Jesus is raised, people start talking because there is real power in Christ. Because people know, deep down in their hearts, that there really is a God, and because, while they might manage to ignore the fact most of the time, when it comes up in conversation something very real is triggered within. And now that you have read this far, and the subject of Christ has come up, I want to pose the question: what is your current spiritual state? What has been triggered deep within your soul? Are you right with God or is there something nagging at you?

If you feel a sense of something that needs to be set right, you’re certainly not alone. The Bible says that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s me, you, the pope, all of us. But God has solved the sin problem for us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) and “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2).

There is forgiveness and grace through faith in Jesus. And that forgiveness is yours if you will just reach out to the God who created you. May you now find renewal in His endless love and mercy!

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Happy Independence Day

4th of julyThe fourth of July is a national holiday celebrating our independence from Great Britain. Now it was on the 2nd of July that we actually declared our independence, but in typical bureaucratic fashion, it took Congress two days of debate before they were able to come up with a declaration containing verbiage agreeable to all. Hence…we celebrate on July 4th, which is the date on the Declaration of Independence (many historians believe it was not actually signed until August 2, 1776). (Reference: “Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July!“. History News Network. George Mason University. June 30, 2001.)

Whatever is the true and correct date of our independence, it is on the 4th of July that we celebrate as a country with parades, carnivals, patriotic displays, and, of course, fireworks. It is a time we spend with family and friends, relaxing at the lake, enjoying freshly grilled cuisine together, or any combination of fun-filled activities. Our independence as a country is certainly something worth celebrating, after all, the United States of America is the hallmark of freedom to the entire world!

Another lesser known fact about the 4th of July is that it is the day three of our past presidents entered their eternity. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signors of the Declaration of Independence who later became president, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826. And President James Monroe died on July 4, 1831. I bring up these facts for a simple reason, to remind us all that the 4th of July is as good a day as any to contemplate that one statistic that is beyond argument: we will all one day pass from this world.

And while death is never a fun topic for discussion, it is from this very holiday that we can all find reason to rejoice! Because when the United States of America became independent it led to the eventual adoption of our constitution (in 1789) and bill of rights giving us the promise of the free exercise of religion (the first amendment was ratified in 1791). And it is with this guarantee that we are free to investigate and pursue our own religious convictions.

So, on this Independence Day I want to challenge you to spend some time contemplating the simple reality that you will eventually die and there is no escaping that fact. And while you are celebrating your freedom, I want to further encourage you to thoroughly investigate Christianity as your best religious choice. Because if you do investigate with an open heart and mind, I am confident you will conclude, as tens of millions of others have, that Jesus Christ is real, that he surely walked this earth, that he was crucified on the cross, dying a horrible and agonizing death as payment for our sins, and that he truly rose again.

In our independent country, we place a lot of faith in eyewitnesses. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ. The apostles were so convinced of the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection they endured beatings, jail time, and eventually death so that the message of salvation through faith in Christ would go out to all the world.

Jesus said, ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Folks, if you haven’t already done so, why not make this 4th of July the day you secure your eternal home with Jesus. It’s really simple, all you have to do is ask him.

(For further reading, we are pleased to recommend “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.)

To learn more about securing your eternity with Jesus Christ, please visit:

KnowGod.org

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